Today’s letter is one of those ‘musing’ that has been personally pertinent to me. I hope some of you will resonate with this and get something from it!
“The Love of Your Life”
It can be very strange to reach a point in your life and suddenly feel a lingering sense of unease, restlessness, and dissatisfaction with the life you are living…without knowing why. You look around and see what appears to be a great, even perfect life – but something is nagging at you. The day-to-day work feels like drudgery – or at least it no longer offers the excitement you once had.
It’s not just a matter of physical fatigue or natural burnout, but a soul-quenching hunger for something you cannot name.
This can be especially difficult if this feeling has slowly crept up on you over time. Or if others are telling you to get over it and enjoy life as it is.
This something missing might have something to do with your complex and often twisted relationship with ‘the love of your life.’
The love of your life does not have to be a person.
So many of us have been shaped by conventional values to think that ‘the love of our life’ must be a lover, a child, a soulmate, or a family. But the truth is, to each of their own.
The love of your life should be anything that makes your heart sings.
It can be anything. Really. Anything.
It can be a hobby, a pet, a mission, an activity, a city, a culture, a profession, a subject, a goal. It can be something like: Food, mathematics, art, travel, fishing, Scandinavia, making friends, talking to strangers.
It can be the strangest, weirdest things.
Somewhere in the world, some people married the Eiffel Tower or a robot.
Who are we to judge and say that they are “wrong”?
Having, knowing and admitting that we have a ‘love of our life’ is the central pillar of our existence.
It might be the most effective medicine for existential anxiety and depression.
To reach our deepest potential, we need something that moves us emotionally, stimulates us intellectually, shakes us spiritually, and allows us to be consumed by it entirely.
When everything else we cannot control seems to be falling apart, we will have a world of our own to retreat to. The love of our life brings us joy, purpose, and meaning to our existence.
Have you ever had an ‘out of body’ experience where you forgot time and space and were totally immersed in where you were and what you were doing?
In what moments in your life do you feel transcendent, do you feel deeply connected to ‘God’, ‘The Tao’, nature, the universal energy, sentient beings, or a force you can feel but not see?
Is there a place in the world that whenever you feel fatigued and disheartened, you close your eyes and travel to?
If you had only one month to live, where would you go and what would you do?
You can feel the love of your life vibrating in your body when you think about it.
You can become completely absorbed, immersed. It makes you smile at times, and it makes you cry at times.
Because of our cultural confines, however, we often do not admit to ourselves what we really love.
What makes our hearts sing may not be something that makes money, generates explicit value, or something that is understood or recognized by the world.
Our parents might be disappointed in our choice and our spouse might worry if we devoted our lives to our passion.
That is why, often in the first half of our lives, we deny ourselves of what we deeply love.
It is not uncommon that we would have a time in our lives where we separate ourselves from what makes our hearts sing.
It’s not realistic,” you had said. “It will not bring me a real career.” You had thought. “It’s irrational.” So you hid your authentic desires from yourself and others.
Deep in your closet, your dream wept.
There were times when it tried to get your attention, but you were too busy ‘being an adult’ to give it a second look.
But your dismissed dream did not just die.
It remained dormant and silent, but it was alive.
One day, when things get out of hand in your adult life – when things do not go according to plan, when you have a career setback, a relationship trauma, or a painful family conflict — your old friend comes knocking on your door.
When this happens, it is often not a conscious decision, but a sense of urge, a compulsion, a nameless desire.
For example, you may find that you are drawn to a particular section in the bookstore.
Perhaps you feel the urge to visit a city.
Suddenly, you want to dig up an old film.
You feel the compulsion to revisit an old relationship.
You have disturbingly vivid dreams.
Deep in your closet, you find your old friend — the long lost ‘love of your life’ that you have banished and rejected all these years. Fortunately, what was exiled has not been extinguished.
When you pick it up, you find that time has not diminished your love one bit.
You feel as emotional, passionate and irrationally moved as when you were a teenager.
A part of you feels like you can give up everything just to be with it again.
Despite the critical voice inside you that tells you you are being indulgent, you cannot help but engage with it. And once you do, every single cell in your body is re-kindled. You can not put it down.
At first, it can be agonising to consider devoting time and energy to be with the ‘love of your life,’ especially if you have been alienated from it for various practical reasons.
What should you do? Do you keep doing what you are doing, or do you change something? And if so, how? And if you do change something, will it be worth it?
It may even seem selfish to think about changing your own life when so many are depending on you.
At the same time, you feel so strongly attracted to the love of your life that you feel you have no choice but to love it once again.
But once you have taken small steps to reunite with what you truly love, you will see that your life has not fallen apart. In fact, the opposite happens.
Suddenly, you have boundless energy.
Your days seem brighter, lighter.
Even work that had become tedious is now bearable.
People around you notice the difference – you beam with joy and exuberance. Your energy is contagious.
At this point, a part of you may blame yourself for ignoring the love of your life for so long. You are angry at yourself for having hidden in the closet for so long, for not living authentically all these years. But you are not the only one.
Jung has famously said that for many of us, the first half of our lives is about accumulating and adapting. It is only when we reach a turning point in our lives that we embark on a journey to let our facade go and reunite with our authentic selves.
The love of your life is your reminder, your divine messenger, your guide on this path. It is knocking on your door for a divine, meaningful reason.
This is a time in your life when you meet yourself again. In mid-life, where all your efforts in building a career, forming relationships, having kids, pleasing others are no longer enough.
This journey of going inside and reuniting with the love of your life is scary but extremely meaningful and necessary.
You have the power to rewrite rules that don’t work for you anymore.
If you do not want to look back in old age to find that all your life you have betrayed yourself, you must not ignore the love of your life.
Far from being too late, you are at a pivotal point: Would you once again turn your back on your true love, or would you run towards it this time, with your one and only life?
Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive and international experience in mental health and psychotherapy. Her books Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity and The Gift of Intensity are available worldwide and in multiple languages. Imi has two Master’s degrees; one in Mental Health and one in Buddhist Studies. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism.